ADB Supports Modernisation of Uch-Kurgan Hydropower Plant

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a $100 million financing package to modernise aging equipment and improve power generation capacity at the Uch-Kurgan hydropower plant (HPP), the oldest of the six HPPs installed along the Naryn River cascade in the Kyrgyz Republic.

ADB’s assistance, comprised of a $60 million loan and a $40 million grant from the Asian Development Fund, will help to strengthen the Kyrgyz Republic’s energy self-sufficiency and increase its potential for renewed energy exports to neighbouring countries in Central Asia. ADB will also administer a $45 million loan from the Eurasian Development Bank for the project.

“The modernisation of the Uch-Kurgan hydropower plant supports the government’s strategy to rehabilitate existing power plants to increase clean energy production,” said ADB Principal Energy Specialist Mr. Sohail Hasnie. “The Kyrgyz Republic has the potential to generate about 150 terawatt-hours of clean electricity per year, but it’s producing only about 10 per cent of that amount at the moment. We expect the Uch-Kurgan to produce 20 per cent more power when the work is completed.”

The Kyrgyz Republic is a clean energy hub in Central Asia, supplying 90 per cent of the region’s hydropower. In 1995, the Kyrgyz Republic exported more than 2,000 gigawatt-hours to Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan, which have since declined to less than half that. As more energy becomes available, Kyrgyz power exports are expected to grow. The export of hydropower and corresponding dollar-denominated export revenues will improve the energy sector’s financial situation and offset similar payments for the import of power from Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan during winter months.

Uch-Kurgan HPP, located 271 kilometres southwest of the country’s capital Bishkek, began operating in 1962 and was used as a baseload plant. Since then, no major improvement works have been undertaken. Replacing and modernising aging equipment will not only increase power generation at Uch-Kurgan, but also maintain the integrity of the power system in the Naryn River cascade. The Naryn River cascade is the powerhouse of the Kyrgyz Republic with its six HPPs producing 92 per cent of the country’s hydropower supply.

The modernisation project will restore full operation of all four generating units of Uch-Kurgan HPP with increased total capacity of 216 megawatts (MW), from the original capacity of 180 MW. It will also finance the reinforcement of the HPP’s hydraulic steel structure and dam infrastructure, while making all 8 bottom outlet gates operational. Removal of undertake silt and sedimentation will also be carried out to help restore proper operation of the HPP’s hydromechanical equipment.

ADB’s assistance will also support capacity building of Electric Power Plants (EPP), the project’s executing agency, particularly in its commitment to operational sustainability and diversity by establishing the EPP’s engineer’s accreditation program and through the recruitment of 10 women engineers in the next 2 years.

ADB is committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific, while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty. In 2018, it made commitments of new loans and grants amounting to $21.6 billion. Established in 1966, it is owned by 68 members—49 from the region.